United States Secretary of State Kerry returned to Israel for another shot at pushing the peace process forward or to at least appear to be doing so. At Secretary Kerry’s side was General John Allen whose assignment was to add gravitas to the presentation of how the latest American proposals will address all of Israeli security concerns. General Allen was reputed to have been working with aides from numerous branches within the American government in order to fulfill, as Secretary Kerry claimed speaking at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum, “He is helping us make sure that the border on the Jordan River will be as strong as any in the world, so that there will be no question about the security of the citizens, Israelis and Palestinians, living to the west of it.” Kerry further noted, “Never before has the United States conducted such an in-depth analysis of Israel’s security requirements that arise from a two-state solution.” There have been rumors that the preliminary plan calls for the United States to secure the borders along the Jordan River and the Jordan Valley. This is supposed to fill Israelis with a sense of secure comfort that the same country which presumably has secured its own southern border with Mexico from illegal immigrants will be securing the Jordan River and Valley preventing smuggling of arms and personnel which could pose a threat to Israel should they reach terrorist operatives in the Palestinian areas. Currently Israelis are supposed to feel assured with the guarantees from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s promises that he will never allow Israeli security be protected by any third party forces and will always keep Israeli security in the hands of the IDF.
Needless to say all that has been agreed thus far is that they will discuss the different security arrangements without any single plan having been already decided. This probably does not exactly fill every Israeli with great amounts of confidence that things will turn out well. After all the Israeli people have plenty of reasons to not trust any promises of security guarantees being provided by third parties. A quick look at the history of similar promises bears their doubt as valid. After the 1956 war against Egypt allied with Britain and France reacting to Egyptian President Nasser closing the Suez Canal the United Nations placed peacekeepers in the Sinai Peninsula in order to guarantee the peace was permanent between Israel and Egypt. When the very same Egyptian President Nasser demanded these peacekeepers withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula in order to permit him to deploy massing of troops on the Israeli border in concert with Syria doing the same on the Israeli northern border which led to the 1967 Six Day War, the peacekeepers quietly packed up and went back to their home country. Great amount of good the peacekeepers provided as they simply melted away at the first threat of breaking the peace. Then there was the great lack of success by the UNIFIL troops before the Second Lebanon War in preventing Hezballah from placing rockets and building bunkers and other fortification south of the Litani River. Somehow during the Second Lebanon War the Israeli population was bombarded with thousands of rockets and the IDF faced well-fortified Hezballah positions with established command and control systems, anti-tank munitions and bunker systems with interconnected bunkers through extensive underground tunnels. After the Second Lebanon War the United Nations, European Union and the United States declared that the newly doubled in size UNIFIL forces would be much better able to prevent the rearming of Hezballah. Somehow Hezballah has rearmed with estimated multiple times the numbers of rockets and also rockets and guided missiles with greater ranges and larger payloads along with reestablishing their entire interconnected bunker systems and command and control hardware all under the direct inspection of the fortified UNIFIL forces. The European governments are now threatening to pull their troops from serving in UNIFIL as they estimate that such missions are far too dangerous as Hezballah has the ability to devastate the UNIFIL troops at their whim at any time. Lastly, there is the wonderful example of the European Union inspectors who were positioned in the Philadelphia Corridor between Egypt and Gaza after Israeli Prime Minister Sharon disengaged from Gaza removing every single Israeli citizen in the communities within Gaza and removed all IDF forces, equipment and facilities turning the entirety of Gaza over to the Palestinian Authority. The European Union inspectors who were stationed between Egypt and Gaza lasted almost a month before they retreated to their hotels refusing to return to their posts monitoring the border leading to the tunnel systems and other measures of smuggling arms into Gaza which includes among the items the tens of thousands of rockets and mortars that have been fired into Israel since the 2005 disengagement by Israel from Gaza and the disappearance of the European monitors. Unbelievably enough, the Egyptian military is currently providing some of the best security over their border with Gaza since the Israelis were convinced to trust Western third party security personnel to safeguard that border.
The big question is what would be the signs that the Israeli government is actually going to make the very same mistake and allow the United States to be the third party which guards the Jordan River and Valley preventing smuggling of arms and terrorists into the Palestinian state should one be formed either through negotiations or by forced application by the United States, United Nation or whatever entity is used to implement a “fair and balanced and secure solution”. The first signal that such a deal may be in the offing has already been committed. The signal that this tragedy has moved one step closer, even closer than it was when Tzipi Livni was placed in charge of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, was when Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid Party announced this week that he would be willing to back Israel taking bold steps in order to make peace with the Palestinians even if it meant breaking with Naftali Bennett and his Jewish Home Party and siding with Prime Minister Netanyahu in replacing them with recently elected Isaac Hertzog and his Labor Party which supports taking any risks necessary in order to reach a peace, any peace under any stipulations. The next step would likely be commentary coming from the more progressive members and Ministers of the Knesset who believe that bold moves and serious sacrifices may be a necessary step if it would bring a lasting peace and still guarantee Israeli security complaining that Naftali Bennet or members of his party are an impediment to reaching a peace which is just around the corner if only these hardliners would stop placing obstacles preventing meeting the necessary preconditions demanded by Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas. Should the Jewish Home Party be removed from the coalition or the Labor Party joins the coalition that would be a sign that the deal is either closed or very close to closed and that the United States is working very hard behind the scenes granting everything even to include partial “Right of Return” for the Palestinian refugees in order to force what appears to be a mutually agreed peace treaty. The time to really begin to worry for Israelis will be when these comments start to include the more stringent Zionists from within the Likud Party, the same party as the Prime Minister. The final sign after which it is a completed deal would be either Prime Minister Netanyahu removes members of the Likud Party from the Knesset for any reasons whatsoever and replaces them with known Likud Party members who have advocated peace at almost any sacrifice. Hopefully we will not see the same ploy which predicated the Gaza disengagement and Prime Minister Netanyahu forms a new party taking members from Likud, Labor, Yesh Atid, other parties and formerly unaligned politicians or former military or security commanders forming a core group around which the new government can do whatever is demanded in order to comply and bend before the United States pressures and make what will necessarily be a fateful and terrible mistake which will result in another Gaza disengagement on steroids, massive steroids. Should a deal appear to be in the making which will place third party forces to guard any border, especially the border along the Jordan River, such a deal would be a disaster in the making as these troops will not last past the first challenge and could be even worse.
Where it would be tragic if the end agreement designed the security forces guarding the Jordan River Valley to be a mixed force with equal numbers of IDF troops partnered with Palestinian Security Forces allowing for mixed teams to man the posts and patrol the border, it could be worse still. This would end the day the Palestinians decided to attack Israel which would be initiated with the murder of the IDF members of the joint patrols and posts. The absolute worst decision would be to have the Jordan River Valley completely patrolled and guarded by United States military personnel. The reason behind this is that the United States might actually feel committed to their promises to secure this border in lieu of having IDF troops on the Jordanian border and remain even after they started to take casualties including fatalities when Palestinian terrorists were committed to attack the American presence. It would not matter to the Palestinian Authority leadership, be they Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad or other Palestinian group, whether the targeted troops in the Jordan River Valley were Israeli infidels or United States infidels, they would celebrate either troops’ murder. This was proven after September 11, 2001, when the Palestinian people held celebrations passing out sweets, honking car horns, shooting guns into the air and other revelry in approval and support of the nineteen al-Qaeda terrorists who attacked the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington DC and a final forth plane whose passengers stormed the cockpit resulting in crashing the aircraft preventing it from striking whatever was its target. Eventually, as casualties mounted, the American public would begin to demand the mission be aborted as they do not want their young men and women dying to protect Israel. Should the government of the United States continue to honor the agreement they foisted upon Israel and the casualties mount the American people would begin to resent Israel and some would transfer their resentment of Israel into anti-Semitism. Eventually the Palestinians would mount and succeed in a horrendous attack on the United States peacekeepers killing an unacceptable number to the American public who would be revolted by the continuation of the mission and the results could turn ugly with some using this as an excuse to act on their anger against Jewish targets in the United States. It would be inevitable that some would blame the Jews in the United States for forcing the United States government to protect Israeli lives sacrificing American troops’ lives; they would finally be able to honestly claim that American troops were being placed in harm’s way to protect Israel. There could only be very troublesome results and the Israeli leadership must never allow third party troops be placed on her borders, especially United States troops as if we desire to retain the friendship of the American people we cannot allow them to make sacrifices in our stead. May none of the events described through much of this article ever come to fruition.
Beyond the Cusp